100 WVIA Way
Pittston, PA 18640

Phone: 570-826-6144
Fax: 570-655-1180

Copyright © 2022 WVIA, all rights reserved. WVIA is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Flood: Communities still drying out

The Trolley Trail in Clarks Summit was badly damaged during Saturday's flash flooding.
Kat Bolus
The Trolley Trail in Clarks Summit was badly damaged during Saturday's flash flooding.

On a normal day, the drain pipe beneath the Trolley Trail in Lackawanna County is covered by a loose gravel surface.

Over 100 people a day walk and bike on the trail. But after Saturday’s deadly storm, a roughly 3-foot deep trench opened up exposing the large black pipe, which helps drain water from the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks. Water from the flooding still flows on either side.

"It really acts as a drainage ditch for all of Clarks Summit," said Bill Kern, executive director of the Countryside Conservancy. The private nonprofit land trust maintains the Trolley Trail. It runs from Clarks Summit to Factoryville.

The extent of the damage from Saturday’s deadly flash floods is still unknown. Local and state officials throughout the region are working to help those impacted by the quick and vicious storm water.

The Trolley Trail is now closed.

Countryside Conservancy will work on temporarily fixing spots where they can, said Kern. Ultimately they will have to replace the entire trail.

Kern took a bike ride Sunday morning. He had to see for himself what the trail looked like.

"It was like a punch to the gut to see just the depth of the damage," he said.

There is damage in places that in the past had never even had a trickle of water runoff, he said.

Kern thought about the hard work of the staff, volunteers and board members. They built the trail and maintained it meticulously, he said.

"It was pretty rough to see how much damage had been done to it in a matter of hours," he said.

Countryside Conservancy is working with local and state officials to document the aftermath of the flooding. He appreciates the people who have reached out to volunteer to help clean up. But the extent of the damage requires heavy machinery, even to make those temporary fixes.

Updates on the restoration progress will be on the Countryside Conservancy’s website and Facebook, he said. They’re also looking for donations to help reopen the trail.


In West Scranton, the city held its first of two Storm Recovery Outreach events.

Jeffrey Banks has lived on Watkins Street in North Scranton for the past 20 years.

"We've seen water come out of the creek, got in the yard before. Nothing like this," he said.

Water from Leggetts Creek — a tributary of the nearby Lackawanna River — came in from every direction, he said.

Banks' deck is around four-feet off the ground. The water reached the top. He said some of his neighbors had six feet or more feet of water in their homes.

"The aftermath is that our bank is gone from the creek," he said.

He went to the outreach event Thursday to make sure he and his neighbors knew what services were available. He also spoke with Scranton Mayor Paige Gebhardt Cognetti.

"The only other thing that I wanted to get is to see if we can get the creek built up as quickly as possible," he said.

At the event Thursday, Scranton Fire Chief John Judge said state meteorologists are calling the impact of Saturday’s storm a once-in-200-years flood.

“Which they classify ... as like a 0.5% chance of a flood of that magnitude every year," he said.

Judge said they were recently reviewing levels from the Lackawanna River on Saturday during the storm.

"It went from 1.96 feet at seven o'clock ... in the evening, up to 7.97 (feet) by 8:30," he said.

While the river almost approached a level that action needed to be taken, it was really the tributaries in the West Mountain area that caused the flooding, he said.

The second Outreach event is Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Holy Rosary Center on West Market Street in the city.

Food vouchers and access to Wi-Fi and laptops to report damage to Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) as well as other resources will be available.


In Wyoming County, Commissioner Rick Wilbur went out to survey a number of dirt roads in the county that were destroyed during the storm. Those roads became another stream, he said. 

"The ditches on both sides are two feet deep," he said. "Everything's washed right out. We've got major, major damage.”

Seven or eight bridges are out in the county that either have to be replaced or repaired, he said.

Unlike floods in the past, Saturday wasn’t a river event, he said.

"It came so fast, so hard and ... so quickly what it did it overwhelmed ... most of them are smaller streams," he said. "It was like a torrent and that's what wiped out a lot of bridges.”

He’s expecting PEMA as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to be in the county within the next week or so.

Luzerne County officials are still working on assessing the damage from the storm, said Charles Krommes, Emergency Management Planner for the county. The Luzerne County Fairgrounds received major damage from the rain and wind, he said. The impacted areas are primarily in the Back Mountain.

PEMA launched a Public Damage Assessment Link for area residents and businesses to report damage done to their properties. It's available at https://damage-assessment-3-pema.hub.arcgis.com/

The Scranton Area Foundation established a Lackawanna County Flood Relief Fund. It will support community organizations directly impacted by the flooding. The organization is seeking donations for the relief fund. For more details, visit https://scranton.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/create/fund?funit_id=4598.

Additionally, Lackawanna County is setting up a temporary Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) on Sept. 21 and 22 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sept. 23 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The center will be at the Chinchilla Fire Company, 113 Shady Lane Road, South Abington Twp. Residents and businesses that experienced significant damage from the storm will be provided resource information and guidance.

Kat Bolus is the community reporter for the newly-formed WVIA News Team. She is a former reporter and columnist at The Times-Tribune, a Scrantonian and cat mom.
Related Stories